Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Army Run Report

6:30am, alarm goes off, race day begins.  Inventory time…running shoes…check, race#...check.  Quick stop at Timmy’s for a bagel and some caffeine and then I’m off to watch the 5km race start.  The air is cool but it’s sunny as the thousands of runners make their way through the start line.  It takes over 10 minutes to get everyone on their way.  It’s quite the spectacle seeing that many people heading out at once.  As this is a race organized by the Canadian Army there was an awesome presence of soldiers in full gear, including this maniac who opted to run the 5km wearing full chemical gear (gas mask included).

Now that all of the 5km crew are on route I have to start thinking about the fact I’m about to run a half marathon, and I need to get organized.  As you’d expect from an event organized by the military the race expo area was very efficient.  I was able to valet my warm-up gear at a tent that they called the “Sweat-check”.  On my way to the start I was very happy to see CanHEAR runners Isabelle, Linda, and Andrea, all of whom were looking very calm and ready for 21.1km that awaited us.

Isabelle and I tried to make our way up to the “Coral” for runners who expected to finish in 2hrs or less, but unfortunately there were so many people already waiting to go that we couldn’t make our way through the crowd.  This wasn’t a big deal as our race#’s contained an electronic chip that would keep our timing accurate as it tracked our time as we crossed the start/finish line. 

A thunderous cannon announced the start of the run and it was a full five minutes before we started moving.  This was fine as I hadn’t figured out what playlist I was going to listen to yet and spent that time fiddling with my iPod.  A couple of minutes later we were making our way north towards Parliament with a massive crowd.  A quick left took us west past the Parliament buildings and into some open road where you could start to move up through the crowd.  The first section of the course was an “out and back” which was cool as you were able to see the lead runners absolutely flying back in the opposite direction.  I spotted another CanHEAR shirt at about the 4km mark and realized that it was Francine who was venturing out for her first half marathon and still had a big smile on her face (a very good sign). 

A bridge crossing into Gatineau took us through the first elevation changes with a couple of quick hills, but all in all it was a pretty forgiving section.  Another bridge crossing had us heading back over to Ontario

Adam trying to look serious ;)

Linda making it look easy.

Cool shirt modification
Exactly how it's supposed to look!

While heading up Sussex drive I noticed a lot of the runners ahead of me waving to someone on the left side of the road.   It turns out it was Prime Minister Stephen Harper standing at the bottom of his driveway (flanked by two RCMP cruisers) cheering the runners on (nice one Stephen).  A roundabout had us heading back towards parliament and the eventual finish.  At this point I realized that I had been running a tad too quickly and my legs weren’t happy about it.  As we still had 5km to go I thought that it was a good time ease off a bit, unfortunately my legs didn’t like that either so I decided it was best to lift the pace in hopes of finishing sooner.  My plan worked up until about the 18km mark when a lack of mileage finally caught up with me and I was reduced to a much slower jog.  At this point everyone who had trained properly really picked up the pace and looked great as they powered along the Rideau River towards the finish.  The final km was packed with spectators applauding and shouting encouragements to all the runners as they finished this spectacular run.  I crossed the line relieved to be done, and was awarded with a “dog-tag” finishers medal, and a series of firm handshakes from a line of soldiers who thanked all of the finishers for coming out and supporting their race.  The irony of our countries soldiers thanking me for anything hit me instantly, but I was lacking the words at that point to express how humbled I am at the thought of what they do for all of us everyday.

Shortly after, the rest of our CanHEAR runners made their way through the finish area.  Everyone that I saw looked amazingly fresh, and reported to have enjoyed themselves on their way to this amazing accomplishment. 

A truly amazing job by all of our 5km and half marathon finishers.  Thanks to all of you for coming out and representing Phonak/CanHEAR Uganda at this exceptional event.

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